Narcissistic verbal abuse is powerful. A talented narcissist can wear you down and then spin you around so fast you hardly know what has happened. Before you realize it, the narcissist has convinced you that what is up is really down and their verbal assaults are actually your fault.
For this reason, verbal abuse is a favorite tactic of narcissists. It very quickly intimidates the target while simultaneously establishing their dominance and superiority. The attack usually catches the target off-guard thus assuring victory. All of this is done to gain control and manipulate you into doing something.
The pattern is similar whether the narcissist is a spouse, parent, employer, coach, manager, or preacher. It first begins in secret, is infrequent, is mild in tone with minimal use of abusive language, and sometimes is followed by a shallow apology. Then it escalates to public humiliation, is more frequent, shifts blame to you, and is excessive in tone while denying abusive words.
- Narcissists use the volume and tone of their voice to subconsciously establish dominance over you. They do this through two extremes. One way is to increase the volume by yelling, screaming, and raging. The second is equally effective through complete silence, ignoring, and refusing to respond. Their tone reiterates the abusiveness by combining petulance and pompousness.
- Words have meaning beyond their definition. For a narcissist, words are used to instill fear, intimidate, manipulate, oppress and constrain. Swearing and threatening language comes easily to the narcissist when you refuse to do what they want. But if you try to use the same method, their verbal assault will amplify.
- The manner of a narcissist’s speech is argumentative, competitive, sarcastic and demanding. They will frequently interrupt, talk over you, withhold key information, bully and interrogate. Many times the verbal assault will be so rapid that you will not have the time or energy to fight point by point. This is precisely what they want.
- Mixed in with the assault will be personal attacks such as name calling, mocking your response, defaming your character, berating your feelings, and judging your opinions. To further add to the confusion, the narcissist will mix some truth with a lot of criticism. This condemning tactic leaves you feeling inferior and defeated.
- A narcissist will do anything to avoid embarrassment, including going on the defensive over minor infractions by blocking and diverting your remarks. Their self-inflated perception is so skewed that they frequently accuse you of making them look bad. When they perceive an attack, they refuse to take responsibility, become hostile, invalidate or dismiss your feelings, lie, and conveniently forget promises or commitments.
- Narcissists are masters at the blame game; anything that goes wrong is your fault. They will accuse you being too sensitive, will be overly critical of your reactions, one-up your feelings and oppose your opinions. In essence, you are to blame for the negative condition in which they find themselves.
- Typical sayings include: “I’m critical for your own good,” “I was only joking when I said that…,” “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “You don’t know how to take a joke,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.”
- As a result of the verbal abuse, you feel you can’t ever win, are always in the wrong, have a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, constantly walk on eggshells, are fearful of their response, and are embarrassed by their behavior.
You are not going crazy. Verbal abuse is real and can leave you confused and frustrated. Be careful not to agree to anything the narcissist insists on during the verbal assault. Wait at least 24 hours before making any decision and get counsel outside of them. You do not have to jump through every hoop the narcissist requires.
There is hope for your exhaustion. Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort. If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment. Or you can send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org.